By Ashley Robinson
Last year, AgNet Media incorporated vegetable and specialty crop (VSC) seminars into the 28-year-old Citrus Expo. The change was met with positive feedback from both growers and industry members. Therefore, AgNet Media decided to expand that side of the program and debut the Vegetable and Specialty Crop Expo (VSC Expo) this year, being held in conjunction with Citrus Expo. The VSC Expo seminar program was created with growers of all kinds in mind and will address big issues of concern.
Gene McAvoy, a regional vegetable Extension agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), led the efforts in organizing and designing this year’s VSC seminar program.
“There truly is something for everyone this year,” McAvoy explains. “We will be covering areas of huge interest for our growers.”
The seminar program is spread out across both days of the expo. On Wednesday, Aug. 14, the program will focus on current emerging pests and diseases. Topics will include the watermelon virus complex in South Florida, tar spot, fusarium in watermelon seedlings, silk flies and tomato viruses. Also, on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will address the current fruit fly outbreak in Mexico.
“A lot of produce moves into the United States from Mexico. If we don’t get that problem under control in Mexico, that produce poses a threat not only economically, but it can act as a vehicle for the introduction of fruit fly into places like Florida. This could be devastating to our industry, so we want to hear what the USDA is trying to do to manage that situation,” McAvoy says.
On Thursday, Aug. 15, the information-packed program continues. The day begins with a presentation from Jose Chaparro with UF/IFAS. He will be speaking about alternative crops in Florida.
“There is a lot of interest out there in alternative crops, but Jose brings people back down to earth a little bit and focuses on some of the things that we need to look at when we’re considering these crops,” McAvoy says. “There are reasons why things are grown in certain areas depending on geology, geography, soils and climates. If any of these are off, the crop may fail. So, Jose will be focusing on some of those considerations that growers should look at when considering crops.”
Other topics that will be addressed on Thursday include food safety, precision agriculture, fumigant ratios for pest management in vegetables, management of whiteflies and diamondback moths, and downy mildew on cucurbits.
The vegetable and specialty crop seminars will take place in the Davidson Hall at the Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers, Florida, on Aug. 14–15.
Growers can earn 5 continuing education units (CEUs) for their Florida restricted-use pesticide licenses over the two-day seminar program. For growers with a private license, this will satisfy the CEU requirement for a four-year period.
Growers will not want to miss VSC Expo and Citrus Expo, so don’t wait. To preregister, click here or call 352-671-1909. All preregistered growers will automatically be entered for a chance to win a John Deere gun safe courtesy of Everglades Equipment Group.
Due to a staggering amount of support, the event is currently sold out of indoor exhibitor space, but there are outdoor booths available. If you would like to exhibit outdoors or be added to the waiting list for indoor space, please fill out a registration form.
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